When I first met Pie he was just two months old. His mum, Apple, and friends Rhubarb and Custard had to be rescued after they were found to be living in an unsuitable environment and suffering from the effects of having overgrown hooves. Donkey Welfare Adviser Sharon Shanks and I, worked with the RSPCA and Humberside Police to get the donkeys to a place of safety where they received all the treatment and care they needed.
Pie had never been handled so the grooms at our temporary holding base worked with him every day in order to gain his trust and teach him to stand still, lead and pick up his hooves. Pie proved to be a quick learner and soon showed off his new skills by standing quietly for his first hoof trim.
Once Pie had settled in it wasn’t long before his personality began to show.
"Pie was so playful he would pick up the brushes and buckets whilst I was mucking out the stables in the morning. Pie was always keen for a cuddle and just loved to be groomed. It was really satisfying to work with Pie, to help build his confidence and watch his character develop." Kayleigh Dixon, Holding Base Groom.
It is fair to say that Pie is no stranger to the lime light. Over the last 12 months Pie has helped us celebrate World Animal Day; pictures and videos of him have been shared on our social media page; and his rescue story has been featured in newspaper and magazine articles as well as in our own summer newsletter.
When Pie was old enough, we made arrangements for him to be castrated to prevent him from fathering any foals in the future. The Donkey Sanctuary has a no breeding policy and we recognise the importance of tackling the issue of indiscriminate breeding which can lead to unwanted foals, over population and can contribute to poor welfare situations. Our veterinary team produced a leaflet on the benefits of early castration which was sent to the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and guess who the cover star was? That’s right, Pie!
During his stay in the holding base, I was lucky enough to pop in and see Pie from time to time. Watching him develop from a nervous fluffy foal to a handsome, friendly young donkey has been a real privilege, he has such a fun loving and curious nature, you cannot help but be captivated by him.
A few months ago Pie and his friends made the journey to Devon to our Sanctuary in Sidmouth. Since his arrival, Pie has had a little growing up to do - he has left his mum and now lives with a group of boys, including Benji, Justin and Blue whose rescue features in my recent blog - Collaboration Creates Change for Donkeys in Need. It seems Pie’s popularity has continued as when I asked for some comments from those now caring for him there was no shortage of volunteers - here is what they have to say about him.
"When Pie arrived he was integrated into his new group, he attached himself to our two darlings Poppy and Rosie - he followed them around for the first week until he found his feet. He has now made friends and grown in character. Pie likes to hang around with his best mate Blue the most and we often have them come up to us while sweeping and doing general duties for a good old scratch. Pie likes to muscle in on anything that’s going on in the shelter, he’s been giving Matt the farrier cuddles and keeping the other donkeys calm while having their feet done." Sarah Cort, Donkey Sanctuary Groom.
"Pie has stolen the hearts of many at The Donkey Sanctuary, including mine. I sometimes work extra hours in the new arrivals area of the Sanctuary so am lucky enough to help the newbies settle in to their surroundings. Pie would always run into the barn when he heard the truck pull up so I would shout to him ‘where is handsome Pie’ and almost every time he would stick his nose through the hole in the metal door for a kiss! For such a small and new donkey to the world Pie has a massive character full of love and joy that he infects with all that he meets. His life could have been so very different but his future is full of hope now that he is in the safety and care of The Donkey Sanctuary." Sophie Carter, Donkey Welfare Adviser.
Anyway that’s enough talking... I thought the best way of capturing the character of this little chap was to let you see for yourself so I have put together a video clip of some Pie moments over the last year, I hope you enjoy watching.